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# BRIDGE

Published: Thu, June 30, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.

North-South vulnerable. South deals.

NORTH

x -K J 10

u -8 5 2

v -A K J

w -A 10 8 7

WEST EAST

x -8 4 x -9 7 6 5 2

u -K Q J 7 6 4 3 u -9

v -10 4 v -7 6 5 3 2

w -Q 2 w -6 5

SOUTH

x -A Q 3

u -A 10

v -Q 9 8

w -K J 9 4 3

The bidding:

SOUTH WEST NORTHEAST

1NT 3u 4u Pass

4NT Pass 6NTPass

Pass Pass

Opening lead: King of u

Conventional wisdom, backed by sound mathematics, states that when you have a combined holding of nine cards in a suit missing the queen, it is correct to play for the drop and not take a finesse. When there has been pre-emptive action, however, you can expect freak distributions. You need firmer evidence of how suits are breaking.

After, West's pre-emptive jump to three hearts North cue-bid four hearts to show his strength. When South bid four no trump, natural on this auction, North decided South had to hold one of the two top honors in the suit, and contracted for six no trump.

West led the king of hearts, and declarer needed five club tricks for his contract -- there were seven fast winners in the other suits. With nothing else to guide him, South might have been tempted to play for clubs to break 3-1, with West short in the suit. But rather than bank on instinct, declarer set out to learn what he could about the distribution.

The first step was to allow the king of hearts to hold the first trick and win the continuation as East discarded a club. Declarer continued by cashing three rounds of spades and the three winning diamonds, on the last of each West discarding a heart. The count of the hand was complete. West's shape was 2-7-2 and hence he held exactly two clubs. The ace and king of clubs were cashed to fell the queen, and 12 tricks rolled in.

&amp; copy;2005 Tribune Media Services

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